Welcome to the SIA guide to research, with a particular focus on its applications to the social impact space. Research plays a key role as it allows us to understand the root causes of problems, ways to improve the ecosystem and how we can best solve problems. With so many emerging, innovative approaches to solving social issues, it’s critical for you to be able to evaluate alternatives and opportunities as they arise. The goal of this guide is to provide you with tangible learning outcomes no matter what level of knowledge you enter with. Our goal is for you to emerge with a stronger grasp of the foundational concepts of research.
By reading this guide you will:
Various disciplines, institutions, and professions have standards for behaviour that govern the actions of their members. These ethical guidelines coordinate the actions of members and establish trust for the practice at large – whether it is engineering, medicine, or law.
Early references to Design Thinking originated in the aftermath of WWII, which had a deep effect on the way engineers, scientists, and creatives approached problem solving and strategic thinking. Throughout the 50s and 60s, there were efforts made to apply a scientific methodology to the field of design in order to understand and overcome the human and environmental challenges that could not be solved through other means.
Go over our list of courses available at different universities and online, as well as our list of organizations working in the space to get started!
It is important to recognize that design is a powerful tool that holds a lot of privilege in terms of the influence it can have on the media, urban planning, and economic systems around the world. Similar to other structures of power, design can be used to uphold systems oppression (capitalism, patriarchy, heteronormativity) or be used to lift marginalized voices and communities by engaging and designing solutions with them.
Below are the 10 ways designers can support social justice by the Design Justice Network.
– Design Justice Network
In this section you’ll see frameworks, case studies, and tools professionals apply in the field of design thinking. A case study spotlight will follow so you can see how some of these frameworks are applied in real life!
Read a summary about each type below and visit their website for more details!
The Stanford d.school is one of the biggest players in the space and they have developed many wonderful resources to take you through the design thinking journey, no matter where you’re at! Below are the 5 steps they follow to start the process:
Immerse yourself into the physical environment of the problem that is trying to be solved. Observe and engage with the end-user to understand their experience and motivation.
Compile the information gathered during the empathize stage, analyze and synthesize observations in order to define the core issues in a problem statement.
Brainstorm as many new solutions to the problem statement as possible.
Produce a number of inexpensive versions of the final product or service for a test group of end users to trial. The team should have a better idea of the problems present and how users would behave, think, and feel when interacting with the final product.
Rigorous testing of the complete product using the best prototypes from the stage before.
As a leading design thinking firm, IDEO has developed frameworks and resources to support new and experienced designers. Below are the three steps they follow in their process and a case study to exemplify all of them!
”Black women in the U.S—regardless of class or education—are 2‑to‑3 times more likely to die during childbirth and 60% more likely to have a premature baby than their white counterparts. The fight for Birth Justice is the fight for Black and Brown women to have the pregnancy they want, deserve, and have been systematically excluded from. The UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative looked to IDEO.org to help build their momentum and amplify their impact.” – IDEO
Interviews and co-design sessions with mothers, fathers, grandparents, caregivers, preconception women, doctors, nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, community leaders, organizers, educators, and birth justice experts.
Voices for Birth Justice was launched as a public awareness campaign in honor of World Prematurity Day in 2019.
We hope you’ll continue learning about this space on your own, with friends and school. Check out these additional resources below to help guide you: